I would wager that every person in Northwest Arkansas reading this article has by now physically been on some part of the 36-mile Razorback Greenway. This paved trail is abuzz with walkers, runners and cyclists seven days a week from dawn to dusk.
It plays host to multiple local and nationally-ranked runs, cycling rides and races, drawing thousands of participants and spectators. These events often carry over into downtown areas as well.
Greenway consumers represent a broad range of potential customers from children to senior citizens with varied economic backgrounds. Businesses located near the Greenway and those who sell products or services related to the interests of Greenway consumers, have a special opportunity to attract new customers related to Greenway community involvement.
Contrary to classic advertising, Greenway interaction marketing can imprint upon the consumer a natural affinity toward your business fostering a more likely repeat customer who associates personal interests with your business. Some tips to foster this relationship are:
• If your business is actually located with direct trail access then offer outdoor benches for resting, bike racks, patio seating, or cold drinks and packaged snacks. Make the benches or racks colorful and fun in a way that catches travelers’ eyes. They can then be the fodder for fun social media posts, which offers free exposure of your business to their friends and connections.
• Runners and cyclists get bored only being on the Greenway daily and often shoot off onto side streets within a few miles. Thus, offering the same amenities listed above and advertising how close your business is to the trail with maps and posts of runners or cycling groups stopping by on your website and in your social media posts can attract them.
• Think beyond the notion that Greenway consumers are only interested in athletic gear or eating out on a patio. Statistics show a very high percentage of cyclists and runners are upper-income bracket consumers, college educated, “green” consumers, parents and pet owners interested in local flavor events and products. Finance-related, pet product, children’s services, health-related services, travel, art and eco-friendly businesses should consider gaining Greenway consumer exposure.
• Get your business itself involved in the actual Greenway events. The thousands of participants for each event are each given swag or goodie bags when they check in for the event. These contain free products, coupons, ads and other upcoming event notices. Don’t think, “I don’t sell sports gear, so why should I have items in the bags?” Runners need pedicures, cycling groups like craft beer bars regardless of location, mom and dad athletes seek children’s stores and services, most athletes love coffee and juices, and many of the participants from out of town will travel in groups after the event looking for local interest places to visit.
• Keep up-to-date on Greenway events throughout the year and gain exposure by sponsoring teams of your employees in a race, offer themed specials at your business related to the event or its charity organization. Post photos of your staff volunteering at the run stations or actually participating in a race on your social media outlets and share the event organizer’s posts before and during the event. Show your community support and gain affinity with event participants. Sponsoring a tent at the finish line is a booth to showcase your products or services to appeal to the crowds of spectators as well.
Outdoor and sports-related tourism is a booming business trend in Northwest Arkansas due to the growth of the Razorback Greenway and the other mountain bike and hiking trails systems. Consider becoming a community partner with these Greenway consumers and watch your sales figures and customer base fast increase.
Editor’s note: Martha Londagin is an SBA/commercial loan officer with Legacy National Bank based in Springdale and a former business consultant with the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center at the Walton College. She is also a licensed attorney in Arkansas and Oklahoma and an avid runner and cyclist. The opinions expressed are those of the author.